As of Friday 1st May 2015, new legislation concerning Chrome VI (contained within chrome tanned leather) will come into force.
The restriction will state that leather articles and articles containing leather parts that come into contact with the skin cannot contain 3 mg/kg or more of chromium VI by weight of the total dry weight of that leather part. Simply put, this means all such articles that come into contact with the skin are within the scope, regardless of the length of time of the contact. Examples of products that are within the restriction scope include; footwear, gloves, articles of clothing, accessories such as hats, belts and braces, watch straps, purses and wallets, bags, horse riding gear, dog leashes, auto seats, covers for car steering wheels, and furniture.
What is Chromium?
Substances containing Chromium III are used as tanning agents in 80-85% of worldwide leather production. Under certain production and storage circumstances Chromium III can transform in to Chromium VI. A Danish survey showed that 44% of the reviewed articles emitted more than 3 mg/kg Chromium VI.
What is it used for?
Chromium VI has a number of different applications, but in terms of leather, it is involved during the tanning process therefore categorising leathers that have been tanned with this chemical compound as "chrome leathers". The opposite to this is vegetable tanned that uses only natural, organic compounds and materials.
What are the risks?
It is known to cause dermatitis in humans and once sensitized, concentrations of 3 mg/kg are enough to trigger allergic reactions. It has been estimated that about 45% of new Chromium allergy cases in the EU were caused by exposure to Chromium VI in leather, thus highlighting the need for a restriction within the EU at least.
What is the solution?
Vegetable tanned leather, like our Heritage range, is a great alternative to chrome leather due to its organic nature and high quality. Chrome leathers will continue to be produced, but prices are likely to increase while intensive research is carried out to determine feasible alternatives.